A new vision screening program for pre-school children is being launched in the Sea to Sky communities. Local optometrists at the Whistler Eye Clinic and the Squamish Optometry Clinic are volunteering their time to provide free early vision screening for all the pre-school children in the communities of Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton, Mount Currie and D’Arcy. Under the new Vision First Check Program, all parents of two and three-year-olds are encouraged to bring their child for one thorough vision screening by an optometrist. The program is being facilitated through the support of local public health nurses from Coast Garibaldi. Jeanie Fraser, public health nurse manager, who chairs the local advisory committee comments, "With this program there are no barriers for families to access care and early detection of vision problems is achieved." It is important to screen before school age because certain vision problems, if detected early, have much better outcomes. In some cases, waiting until children are school age is too late, making it more difficult or impossible to treat the child’s vision problem. "The screening method we are using is the Modified Clinical Technique," explains Dr. Karen Smith of the Whistler Eye Clinic. "It is recognized as the most thorough and most accurate method and must be performed by an eye doctor. About 14 per cent of children will not pass the screening and the parents are informed that a full eye examination is recommended." The program has been extended to Sea to Sky communities after a successful pilot project in four areas of B.C. last year. Coast Garibaldi health units are playing a major role in informing parents, physicians and childcare providers about the Vision First Check screening. The Ministry for Children and Families is funding program promotion and support materials. The program is also supported by Sea to Sky Community Services. For further information contact the Whistler Eye Clinic, 932-2600 or the Squamish Optometry Clinic at 892-5055.